Ryan Ringle

Adjunct Professor of Physics, Senior Scientist


Education and training

  • BS, Physics & Math, Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI 2000
  • PhD, Nuclear Physics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 2006


My primary research interests include nuclear structure, nuclear astrophysics, and fundamental interactions. What all of these topics have in common is that they rely on mass measurements of rare isotopes. The mass of an atom is actually less than the mass of all of its constituent particles as a small portion of the total mass is in the form of energy that binds the atom together. By measuring the mass of an atom to extremely high precision you can determine this binding energy which plays an important role in the research topics mentioned previously.

Since these rare isotopes are very short lived they don’t exist naturally on Earth and must be produced at facilities like FRIB. The LEBIT facility employs ion traps, called Penning traps, to confine ions in space using a combination of electric and magnetic fields. By manipulating the ions in the Penning trap it is possible to determine their cyclotron frequency from which the ion’s mass can be determined. LEBIT has performed mass measurements of rare isotopes with half-lives less than 100 ms and with relative precisions on the order of 1 part per billion. A typical measurement requires about 100 detected isotopes. Some of the most interesting rare isotopes are difficult to produce and would be delivered to LEBIT at a rate of 1 per day, or less. To enable high-precision mass measurements of these very rare isotopes a new Single Ion Penning Trap (SIPT) system has been integrated into LEBIT and is currently being commissioned. The combination of ultimate sensitivity and the isotope production capabilities of FRIB will enable high-precision mass measurements of rare isotopes that can’t be performed anywhere else in the world.


I was raised in a small town about an hour north of Michigan State University (MSU). I received bachelor’s degrees in physics and math from Michigan Technological University in 2000, and a PhD from MSU in 2006. After receiving my PhD, I accepted a postdoctoral position at the TRIUMF lab in Vancouver, British Columbia, working on TRIUMF’s Ion Trap facility for Atomic and Nuclear Science (TITAN) project where I played a key role in performing several high-impact mass measurements on light, neutron-rich halo nuclei. I returned to MSU in 2009 and am currently employed at FRIB as a Senior Scientist. I have authored over 100 articles in the areas of Penning trap physics and related technological developments, nuclear structure, nuclear astrophysics and fundamental interactions, all united by the common theme of extending the reach of Penning trap mass spectrometry to the furthest reaches of the nuclear chart.

How students can contribute as part of my research team

Students in my group are exposed to many topics in nuclear science, as well as hardware developments in ion traps and ion manipulation devices, data analysis, simulations and high-performance computing, and applications of machine learning. This broad exposure yields very well-rounded, confident graduates that are ready to excel in their future careers in academia, industry, government, etc.

Scientific publications